I have to confess that I was never good at history at school. I was fairly interested in geography though (well, the bits about volcanos and stuff really, not so much the bits about population growth and migration…), and I enjoy a bit of casual fossil admiration, so my interest was piqued when I saw today’s Google doodle.
Turns out, it was all to do with Nicolas Steno, who was at least partly responsible for modern geology.
So, here’s what I’ve learnt today, thanks to Google (and Wikipedia, heh):
Nicolas Steno was a Danish Bishop and scientist who was a pioneer in both anatomy and geology, and who believed that observation was the key to scientific discovery. He travelled widely through Europe and his scientific contributions include discovering that fossils are the remains of living animals, and the three defining principles of Stratigraphy: the law of superposition, the principal of original horizontality and the principle of lateral continuity.
He sounds like someone who you wouldn’t want to get into an ill-informed argument with, either:
At a time when scientific questions were mostly answered by appeal to ancient authorities, Steno was bold enough to trust his own eyes, even when his observations differed from traditional doctrines. – Wikipedia
So, happy 374th birthday Steno. I salute you.